Food, urine, and feces as radiation shield for Mars mission

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60 Responses to “Food, urine, and feces as radiation shield for Mars mission”

  1. wastrel says:

    This seems like a lot of trouble for a visit to Mark’s.

  2. urpBurp says:

    Marks house is gonna be busy… and stinky.

  3. Food, shit, and piss. In other words, almond pie from IKEA.

  4. M Carlson says:

    Doesn’t Mark have a bathroom of his own?

  5. Totally right that food is good radiation shielding. Long carbon chains in lipids are good at stopping beta particles without re-emitting any other type of radiation. Plastics are even better. Remember that next time some moon hoaxer says the moon missions had nothing but a few sheets of plastic as shielding. Plastic is good shielding for the types of radiation that can cause the worst damage to humans.

  6. paprika5alt says:

    Marks is awesome. He’s got a Hi Fi and a huge plasma.

  7. Ramone says:

    PERFECT lunchtime reading here in the central time zone! ;)

  8. archvillain says:

    “The food would block the cosmic rays but wouldn’t become radioactive itself.”
    It kinda of depresses me that physics this basic needs to be explained. (I guess the thinking is that people are used to radiation dangers referring to fallout incidents, such as from power-plants.)

    • Snig says:

      Before you get too depressed and too happy about your physics acumen, you might want to read up on bremsstrahlung.

      • Bremsstrahlung is a problem with beta rays hitting metals which then immediately emit X-rays. Low power x-ray machines like at the dentist fire an electron gun at a lead target. X-rays come out and most of the rays not going all in one direction are stopped by leaded glass.

        if you are talking about something becoming radioactive I believe you are thinking of neutron absorption.

        One thing I liked about Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the reactor accident in Japan is that they always made a clear distinction between “radiation” and “release of radioactive material”. The former is a threat only if you were very near the plant. The latter is much more serious, as ingestion of even a small amount of radioactive material can have serious health consequences.

        • Snig says:

          The full quote from the article was “This wouldn’t be dangerous as the food would merely be blocking the radiation, it wouldn’t become a radioactive source.”  What I think he’s emphasizing is that food and water are good, but that metal isn’t always ideal radiation shielding due to bremsstrahlung.  Most of us think of ships as being built of metal.  In actuality they all would emit bremsstrahlung, hence being sources of radiation, but that emitted by metal would be more dangerous as it would be shorter wavelength and more penetrating. So I believe he is referencing a finer point of radiation protection, and not just dumbing it down to talk to the yokels. 

      • archvillain says:

        You shouldn’t assume everyone else is motivated by smugness, it reflects poorly on you. Your guess as to how to interpret the quote is not mine.

        • Snig says:

          Likely so, I may be reading mustache twirling and evil grimacing into it that was not your intention.  I don’t know why I would misconstrue your motives, Mr. Archvillain.

          • archvillain says:

            Fair enough. For the record, the context I was cuing off was “cosmic rays”. I associate beta more with solar activity, which they talked about separately.
            (Yes I know about secondary particles from cosmic radiation. I’ve built weapo^D^D^D instruments to harnes^D^D^D detect them. *mustache twirl* )

          • Snig says:

            I’m actually quite grateful for your comment, as it allowed me to work the word “bremsstrahlung” into a sentence.  Almost as pleasurable as when I was able to namedrop the only known non-human reservoir of Hansen’s disease, when the topic came up at a family gathering.  Armidilloes, if you were wondering. 

  9. David Pescovitz says:

    I fixed my typo. Sorry to ruin the fun.

  10. theophrastvs says:

    in the freaky sci-fi short story “Scanners Live in Vain” c1950 Cordwainer Smith writes about early efforts of space travel wherein space itself induced intractable pain, so there were ostensibly two solutions: either a space-traveler had all their sensory nerves surgically cut (producing a “Haberman”) or one could line the walls of one’s space-ship with living ‘oysters’, which grow to confluence, and they would absorb the pain ..fields(?).   So just replace oysters with excreta and Cordwainer’s quirky genius is sort’ve realized.  ((never much liked oysters anyway))

  11. awjt says:

    Why does it have to be a man and a woman?  Why can’t it be a man and a man or a woman and a woman?

  12. Bradley Robinson says:

    Shitsulation takes a little of the polish off of “hot space sex.”  At least for me.

    • jandrese says:

      For what its worth, I don’t think this means you’re going to have to smear the walls with feces on your trip to Mars.  You’re going to use your space toilet and it will get pumped into some cavity you can’t see.

      • Bradley Robinson says:

        But it is there.  

        For what it’s worth.

        • Robert Drop says:

          The fact that the interior of the capsule is essentially a slightly large port-a-potty seems like more of a mood-killer.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I guess you don’t cruise carnies.

          • Robert Drop says:

            That’s a safe assumption. ;)
            I should have made explicit my caveat *assuming being near lots of fecal matter is a turn off.  Because that capsule is going to smell like space-farts.  And they’re the deadliest.  (Also I imagine any thrills gained by enacting one’s furtive couplings in rest-rooms are going to disappear when you live in a port-a-potty.)

        • Halloween_Jack says:

           Bradley, I am about to blow your mind, man. You know dirt? The stuff that you’ve walked on all your life? In fact, a synonym for “earth”? 100% worm shit, dude.

      • skeptacally says:

        wait, i thought i pumped it OUT of a cavity i couldn’t see.

        also:  ew.

      • Halloween_Jack says:

         it will get pumped into some cavity you can’t see.

        Whoa, that’s hot.

  13. Robert Cruickshank says:

    I think the mental trauma caused by flying to Mars in a Hitachi Magic Wand lined with poo would be worse than any radiation.

    • Bradley Robinson says:

      I find the notion of flying through space in an enormous sex-toy the furthest thing from traumatic.

      S’up?
      Chillin.  You?
      Flying giant space vibrator to Mars.
      Dude.

      But you’ve a valid point with the dirty walls by Hu Phlung Pu.

  14. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    Shields up Mr Sulu!  Everyone flush!
    Aye captain.

  15. Stefan Jones says:

    Great. Thanks a lot. Thanks to this article, from now on I’m going to think of that bulbous chamber  tacked to the front of the capsule as a giant toilet float.

  16. Jim Saul says:

    Who knew the (awesome) album “Planet P Project” was so prophetic?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_P_Project

  17. Bradley Robinson says:

    The Vulcans will be mortified.

  18. Frank Diekman says:

    They should film it for a new A & E show: Hoarders – In Space.

  19. Cowicide says:

    George Lucas is going to have to update what his Star Wars explosions look like.

  20. welcomeabored says:

    However assured that the recycled water was clean, I’d still have the suspicion that I could smell a hint of poo in every sip. 

  21. William Nicholls says:

    Sleight of hand bullshit headline. Using waste as radiation shielding is just as a replacement for the non-recycled fraction of the the thick wall of water that’s actually the main shield. That two-foot thick wall of water would be enormously expensive to ship into space from Earth. The excremental increment of radiation protection would be tiny, but this shit gets attention.

  22. Garymon says:

    Lets just hope we don’t make first contact while in this ship because first impressions matter.

  23. Deidzoeb says:

    Donovan better get to work revising “The Intergalactic Laxative” song.

    http://youtu.be/iab9YKocUcw

  24. JIMWICh says:

    This really brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Sh*t-canned.”

  25. awjt says:

    God, I’d take the trip just to take a dump on Mars.  That would be EPIC.

  26. Ryan Lenethen says:

    Scotty we need more power to the shields!

    I’m tryin’ captin, but she ain’t got no more in her!

    Bonus for Scotty being a brand of TP.

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